I like lemonade and iced tea. I love orange juice and hot coffee. On a wild night out I indulge in thick, sugary, syrup-based virgin mojitos. But that’s strictly reserved for the wild night outs.
The smell of wine makes me gag and the ugly colour of beer makes me uncomfortable. Vodka burns my throat and I can’t shake off the feeling that I’m being choked, it’s overpowering and evil, numbs my senses too quickly and makes my head pound just as fast.
Tequila is bitter and unnecessary, soju is foreign and too exotic. Whisky makes my toes tingle and leaves me a bitter aftertaste.
I put on my best dress, squeezed my feet into pointy little shoes, and spent hours on my hair; I don’t want to forget this night. I want to remember every single detail- the music, the lights, the laughs and the tears.
“What’s your favorite drink?” I remember being asked. Without a moment’s hesitation I thought of the hot chocolate I drank every Tuesday from the little café on the corner of my street. It was thick and dark, and I could feel the warmth travel all the way from the tip of my tongue and settle in my stomach. But I knew that wasn’t the answer he was looking for, so to seem socially appropriate I asked for a glass of Sprite.
The night was cold and perfect for a cup of steaming, milky tea. I wasn’t buzzed, neither did I feel anything apart from cold. I danced and I laughed, I took off my shoes and danced and laughed a bit more. Someone took my untouched glass of Sprite and poured it into their glass, beaming from the fact that they didn’t have to pay for it, and dancing harder from the sheer euphoria of his luck. It’s the little things, I reminded myself.
I ordered for another glass and clung to it like a lifeline. The joke went around all night, the customary joke of the virgin mojito and the plain water.
The bartender reeked of alcohol but looked extraordinarily sober in that moment. He looked at me and smiled, nodding in understanding. The night got darker and hazier. Everywhere was the clink of glasses and moans of regret, pleas and requests, and cheers of last drinks. But rum made me nauseous and Margarita’s tasted vile. Gin sounds like the devil, and beer really did make me very uncomfortable.
I heard him ask in a voice low and tired, a smile stuck on his lips, “what’s your favorite drink?” mango milkshake, definitely. But I’ll save myself the embarrassment. “What’s yours?”